WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski, together with U.S. Representatives Steny H. Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, Chris Van Hollen, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Donna F. Edwards and John Delaney (all D-Md.), announced Tuesday that Maryland has been awarded $15 million through the Preschool Development Grants program to provide high-quality preschool programs in 19 school districts across Maryland. In the past three years, Maryland has been awarded more than $45 million in federal funds to expand proven-beneficial preschool programs throughout the state.
“We never get do-overs when it comes to our children’s early development, which makes this continued federal investment in Maryland to strengthen and expand our preschool programs incredibly important,” said Senator Cardin. “Our goal is to ensure that early learners have the chance to acquire the skills they need to be successful throughout their lives. With this federal investment, we will be able to provide additional opportunities to meet that goal, as well as meet growing demand to expand access to high-quality preschool programs.”
“Education is the opportunity ladder of this nation. Every child deserves their chance to get a foothold on that ladder,” said Senator Mikulski, senior member of the Senate House, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “These funds in the federal checkbook will help ensure children across Maryland get the care and education they need and deserve so they and their families can have a better, brighter future.”
“For our economy to succeed, we need to invest in education from day one,” said Senator-Elect Van Hollen. “Maryland’s workforce is second to none, because we are committed to making sure our children have the best schools – from preschool through college and job training. Federal grants like this are key to this effort, as we fight every day to make sure our state has a strong education system and a strong economy.”
“I’m glad we were able to secure $15 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education to support early childhood education in Maryland,” said Congressman Hoyer. “In the first two years of this four year grant, this funding has enabled our state to nearly double the number of Judith P. Hoyer Early Child Care and Family Education Centers, known as ‘Judy Centers,’ named for my wife who spent her career as an early childhood education administrator in Prince George’s County. Judy Centers help prepare children from low-income families for kindergarten and elementary school by providing early education and comprehensive health and social services under one roof, helping the child prepare for school and ensuring their family can support learning. I’m proud to be a champion of Judy Centers, which have delivered proven results and serve as a model for the country. All of our children deserve an opportunity to succeed and enter school prepared to learn and achieve.”
“High-quality early childhood education is one of our best tools against poverty and income inequality,” Congressman Cummings said. “This grant will help our schools equip our youngest students with the foundation they need to be successful.”
“This is the type of common sense investment Americans expect during these tough times,” said Congressman Ruppersberger. “Research suggests that Pre-K can improve a child’s chance of success in school and in life – children who attend Pre-K are more likely to graduate from high school and earn more as adults. It is an investment in our future.”
“The research is clear: Early childhood education improves future learning outcomes for our children and helps them succeed in the workplace,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “That’s why this new federal investment in Maryland’s education system is so important. It will help provide more high-quality preschool programs to young students across our state.”
“Early education is one of the smartest investments we can make,” said Congressman John K. Delaney. “High-quality preschool helps young learners prepare for elementary school, can have long-term benefits and can help reduce the achievement gap. These federal funds are good news for Maryland kids and good news for Maryland families.”
Maryland school districts receiving grant funding include: Allegany County Public Schools, Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public Schools, Baltimore County Public Schools, Caroline County Public Schools, Carroll County Public Schools, Charles County Public Schools, Dorchester County Public Schools, Frederick County Public Schools, Garrett County Public Schools, Harford County Public Schools, Howard County Public Schools, Montgomery County Public Schools, Prince George’s County Public Schools, Queen Anne’s County Public Schools, Somerset County Public Schools, St. Mary’s County Public Schools, Washington County Public Schools and Wicomico County Public Schools, in addition to many community-based programs.
Through these Preschool Development Grant awards, more than 35,000 additional children across 18 states will be served in preschool programs that meet high-quality standards in the third year of the program, an increase from 28,000 in the first award year in 2014. States receiving grants will develop or expand high-quality preschool programs in regionally diverse communities — from urban neighborhoods to small towns to tribal areas— as determined by the state. Since 2014, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have provided more than $750 million to states in Preschool Development Grant awards.
Preschool programs help create the foundation for children to thrive in school and in life. Studies show that children who participate in quality preschool programs are more likely to graduate from high school, grow up healthy, avoid involvement in our criminal justice system and find good jobs.
Maryland is one of 18 states to receive an expansion grant, which were designated for states that currently serve 10 percent of more of four-year-olds or have received a Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant. States receiving expansion grants have ambitious and achievable plans to implement and sustain high-quality preschool programs that can reach and serve addition eligible children in two or high-need communities. Up to 5 percent of the expansion grant award may be used for state-level infrastructure and quality improvements.
The Every Student Succeeds Act modifies the Preschool Development Grant program. For the first time, the nation’s education law includes provisions to promote coordination of early learning among local communities, alight preschool with early elementary school and build the capacity of teachers, leaders and others serving our young children to provide the highest-quality early learning opportunities.
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